Ph.D. candidate, New School for Social Research
Expected Completion: Spring 2012
Curriculum Vitae (PDF)
Major Field: American Politics
Minor Field: Comparative Politics
Dissertation Title: "The Politics of ‘the Army You Have’: Change and Continuity in the U.S. Military, 1972-2008"
Department of Politics
The New School for Social Research
6 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003
I study the process of change in American institutions and policy regimes. My research focuses on incremental shifts over long periods – in culture, in the actions of agents, and in the interactions between institutions – that can spark major transformations. I engage the literatures of American political development and historical institutionalism, especially scholars like Kathleen Thelen, Daniel Carpenter, Adam Sheingate, Karen Orren, and Stephen Skowronek, who show that institutions are not monolithic but are riven by factions and have porous boundaries. These are some of the key resources for institutional and policy change.
My next project will examine the politics of developing security policy and capabilities for American cities – especially how the process of creating municipal security policy has changed since the September 2001 terrorist attacks. I am particularly interested in understanding whether actors not directly associated with the federal government have grown in influence over cities’ security policies; how municipal interactions with a variety of officials and experts affect policy outcomes and security capacities; and how different policies affect city-resident relationships, both in law enforcement and in political participation. I will compare a few cities over several periods to understand how technology, ideas about warfare, and feelings of vulnerability affect security policy and practice.
My dissertation aims to explain why the Army now advances nation building as a core mission after decades resisting it. I compare doctrinal manuals, archival documents, and oral history interviews with and writings by officers over four decades. The evidence shows that the Army’s doctrinal transformation of 2008, which elevated stability operations to the same level as offense and defense, was not a sudden break with the past. Instead, it was driven by incremental shifts over several decades in the way officers understood their core missions and capabilities.
During the 1990s, the unofficial discourses of these officers diverged from the Army’s official doctrine, which emphasized employing lethal force against armed enemies if civilian officials ensured the national will for war. This gap between the paradigm and the discourses of officers sparked a crisis. Army reformers seized on this and worked with fellow officers, as well as experts inside and outside government, to consolidate a new way of war. This new paradigm was not forced on the Army by international events like the Iraq War; nor was it imposed by civilian overseers or top generals. Instead, it largely followed the contours of the unofficial discourses of officers, which had begun to change a decade or so before.
I believe this dissertation will reshape our understanding of political change by showing that it is driven from the middle of institutions and that subtle shifts are generally necessary before we see major transformations. This stands in contrast to models suggesting that transformation is driven from the top or from outside.
Chapter 3: The Micropolitics of ‘the Army You Have’ (PDF)
Chapter 4: An Incomplete Transformation, 1973-1976 (PDF)
Chapter 5: Transforming the Army Paradigm, 1977-1982 (PDF)
I am dedicated to the enrichment of undergraduate students, not just by teaching political science but also through building their skills of scholarship and citizenship. This requires challenging them to learn core areas of study while also broadening their interests outside of politics. I aim to inspire students to question their assumptions about political thought and development, and to encourage them to examine real-world issues of vital interest.
I have taught a variety of classes to undergraduates in New York and Germany, including American political thought, twentieth-century international politics, and introduction to political philosophy. I can teach an array of introductory courses in American politics and political thought, as well as courses in topics like the presidency, Congress, the development of American institutions and governing orders, the politics of U.S. foreign and security policy, and qualitative political research.
Given the grounding of my education in political theory and my research in international relations, I am also interested in developing classes that examine how the process of making and implementing U.S. foreign policy accords with normative political theory and the American political tradition. I would also like to create courses that examine how politics in the United States intersects with issues in human rights, economic development, and world politics.
American Political Thought and Institutions in Historical Perspective, Dresden (PDF)
Twentieth Century International Politics, New School (PDF)
Politics: The Foundations, New School, Online (PDF)